Over 600 journalists killed in last 10 years – UN

More than 600 journalists and media workers have been killed in the line of duty in the last 10 years, according to the UN.

These journalists were killed as they worked to bring news and information to the public.

Violence against journalists also comes in other forms, according to UN agency, UNESCO.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has condemned 100 killings of journalists, media workers and bloggers in the first 10 months of 2012.

In her Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, the Director-General also noted that many more media professionals suffered non-fatal attacks, which means, being wounded, raped, abducted, harassed, intimidated, or illegally arrested.

The same report also highlighted the problem of impunity, which is when the perpetrators of the crimes are never brought to justice.

According to UNESCO, it received information which indicates that less than 10 percent of all the cases included in the report led to the conviction of those who committed the crimes.

“There is a lot at stake in many of the issues reported by journalists. War is the most dangerous to cover. But typically, in most cases, the murdered journalists were not reporting in armed conflict situations, but on local stories in their home towns, particularly related to corruption and other illegal activities such as organized crime and drugs,” UNESCO said.

The 2012 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human right defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, says investigating human rights issues is also increasingly being threatened,

“Even reporting on environmental issues can sometimes be fatal for journalists. In other words, they are the kind of news that every citizen such as you and I need to know,” Sekaggya added.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) reports that, “crime is fuelling corruption, infiltrating business and politics, and hindering development. And it is undermining governance by empowering those who operate outside the law”.

Another UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue,  argued in a 2012 report that “local journalists continue to face daily challenges in situations that have not reached the threshold of an armed conflict, but may characterized by violence, lawlessness and repression.”

To address the issues of violence against journalists and press freedom, the 2nd UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity will be held on November 22 and 23 in Vienna, Austria.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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